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Bipartisan bill would spur innovation, competitiveness, say authors

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Scott Brown (R-MA) introduced bipartisan legislation this week that they say would help revitalize America's innovative edge and ability to compete in the global economy.

The Innovate America Act would cut red tape to help businesses utilize research and development for new products, target successful education programs, and promote U.S. exports in new markets to strengthen America's ability to innovate and compete in the global economy.

"Innovation has always been a catalyzing force in Minnesota's economy," Klobuchar said.

"By cutting red tape for businesses and focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math education, we can help our businesses attract and retain our country's brightest scientists, engineers, and researchers. This bill shows we can come together on a competitive agenda that will move America forward."

"The Innovate America Act will create jobs and foster innovation by establishing a more favorable environment for small businesses and entrepreneurs everywhere," Brown said. "During these challenging economic times, it is imperative that we give our universities in Massachusetts and throughout the country the tools and resources they need to turn their ideas into companies and jobs. We also must ensure that our manufacturers and exporters are able to compete in the global marketplace."

Klobuchar serves on the Senate Commerce Committee; chairs the Subcommittee on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Export Promotion; and recently held an "Innovation Summit" attended by hundreds of business leaders and policy experts to discuss public and private strategies to strengthen America's ability to compete globally.

Klobuchar traveled to more 20 Minnesota cities, including Alexandria, in January highlighting the potential for economic innovation to drive long-term prosperity and job creation.

Brown was recently named to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in the 112th Congress. Last year, he received the Manufacturing Legislative Excellence Award from the National Association of Manufacturers.

The legislation would also help increase the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized businesses by focusing on turning research and new technologies created at universities into products; promoting and rewarding schools, technical colleges, and universities that focus on science, technology, engineering and math; and removing red tape and reducing production costs for manufacturing businesses.

Klobuchar added, "In recent years, the country has fallen behind in its efforts to research, develop, and compete in the global economy. We are resting on our laurels at a time when other countries, including China and India, are moving full-steam ahead. This legislation can help create a new wave of invention, entrepreneurship, and exports in the short term, while laying the education foundation to secure America's standing in the global economy in the long term."

"The challenges we face as a nation require all of us working together to get our economy moving again, and I am proud of this bipartisan legislation that will spur American innovation and entrepreneurship," Brown concluded.

Specifically the legislation would:

--Encourage greater commercialization of Research and Development by expanding the Basic Research Tax Credit to include all industry-funded university research

--Allow companies to take a flat 30-percent tax credit for donating equipment to high schools and technical and community colleges

--Fund 100 new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-focused high schools

--Provide incentives to colleges and universities to increase graduation rates for STEM students

--Expand undergraduate research opportunities

--Establish a Website for technology commercialization ideas

--Establish a manufacturing assistance program

--Remove regulatory barriers for top 20 exporting industries

--Enforce existing international exporting and importing laws

--Reduce unnecessary printing and publishing costs of government documents

--Eliminate bonuses for poor performance by government contractors